Report by Salam Toronto
Solidarity. This is what all Iranians need today. Being united and one voice against the brutality and violation of human rights in our homeland. Iranian diaspora in Toronto and many other cities all around the world demonstrated their objection against cruelness imposed against those civilians; stood in solidarity and expressed their unity with their righteous demands.
On Saturday July 25th, the Global Day of Action,
Iranian people along with their fellow Canadians gathered in Queens Park,
Toronto, to participate in a rally in support of freedom in Iran and to draw
attention to the Iranians imprisoned, tortured and killed merely for demanding
their basic human rights.
After the hunger strike in New York City in front of the United Nations on July 22nd to July 24th, another twenty four hour- strike was planned in Toronto on July 25th. Strikers gathered in the park during the meeting. Another interesting gesture in support of the green movement in Iran was cycling over 450 km from Toronto to Ottawa to deliver a petition initiated by Amnesty International to the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ottawa. Signed by more than 3,800 individuals from various backgrounds and affiliations, the petition calls on the authorities to respect the human rights of all Iranians and demands the immediate release of those detained for protesting the results of the June 12, 2009 presidential election. Their movement is called CHRI, cycling for humans rights in Iran.
The rally preceded by a few talks given by Dr. Reza Moridi, MPP for Richmond Hill, Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo, professor at University of Toronto, Dr. Mehrdad Hariri, an active member of Committee for Solidarity with Iran, Ms. Cheri DiNovo, MPP for Parkdale, High Park, and Jian Ghomeshi, Iranian-Canadian broadcaster, musician, writer and host of the daily arts program Q on CBC Radio One.
One of the speakers was Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo; University of Toronto's professor and intellectual, who has been arrested and imprisoned by the Iranian authorities accused to be amongst the elements of the 'velvet movement' against the regime in 2006. He was wearing a T-shirt labelled with 'Human Rights' in Persian and English designed for the cyclists to Ottawa.
In his talk, he saluted the solidarity with political prisoners in Iran. He
stated that Iranians need the world just as the world needs them. Ha said
"Canada needs to be a nation that continues to care about the suffering of
others. We are here to express our anger, grief, and deep concern over the
violation of human rights. We are here to remember Maziar Bahari, a fellow
Iranian-Canadian journalist, Kian Tajbakhsh, a fellow Iranian American Scholar,
and Shadi Sadr, an Iranian activist, just three symbolic names among the three
hundred arrested. " He ended his talk by saluting the courage and energy of
those cycling for human rights in Iran.
Dr. Reza Moridi, MPP from Richmond Hill wearing a Human Rights signed T-Shirt, expressed his support for the Iranian movement in these words: "Today we are here to show our solidarity with millions of our fellow Iranians in Iran against the brutality of the regime in Iran. We ask democracy for our homeland. Regime doesn't respect its own laws. We are here for democracy; we are here for human rights. " Then he addressed Neda Agha-Soltan, the young girl who, among the protestors in Tehran, was shot dead in the streets a few weeks ago with: "Neda! You have died for Iran, but your word is all over the planet. Long live Iran."
Ms. Cheri DiNovo, MPP for Parkdale, High Park: "I am not Iranian but today, anyone who supports freedom and democracy is Iranian. We women, never support any government in the world that does not support the rights of women. People in Iran are facing gunfire, torture, and imprisonment, but stand there for democracy; and we in Canada, have no excuse but to stand with them."
Dr. Mehrdad Hariri: "On behalf of the Committee for Solidarity with Iran, I want to express my gratitude and appreciation for the cyclists. We are here to raise our voice and express our support for those who are in captivity and under torture. The whole world is watching Iran. "
Jian Ghomeshi, CBC radio host, with a tattoo on his right arm reading 'Farhang' which means culture in Persian, expressed his solidarity with Iranians as a proud Canadian and a proud Iranian: "We want to share our solidarity with people in Iran who seek their human rights. This is a remarkable day when people in numerous cities in the world, from Sydney, to Brussels, from Tokyo, to Washington DC and Toronto perform demos in support of the Iranian movement. And it is not only the Iranian diaspora, but also their non Iranian fellows who take part in these rallies as well. In the past three decades, Iran didn't have a loveable feature, nor were Iranians treated fairly in Western media. Terrorism was so nation-widely generalized that as an eighteen year-old I denied my Iranian background. But now I confess that what I know of Iran is not what the media has presented, yet it is the scientific progress, the beautiful legacy of poetry, of dance, literature and music. That is the Iran we know, that's the Iranian people I've seen for years. Iranian people want the right to free speech; this is not such profound expectation, it is basic human rights! The regime wants to stay in power and doesn't care for its citizens, but we're here to say: Not on our watch!"
Jian then continued his talk by generalizing the issue to the world: "This isn't just about Iran; it is about the whole world. This is not the world we want to live in." He then treasured the slogan "The whole world is watching", and continued: "This is about technology, people are on the media, are online, are facebooking, twittering and everyone are aware soon. The whole world is watching, from Mashhad to Qom, from Abadan to Isfahan, from Shiraz to Yazd, and from Tabriz to Tehran."
Then Jian pointed to the populous young generation in Iran, and mentioned that the majority will win. He also mentioned the political leaders such as Mr. Khatami and Mr. Rafsanjani who stood against the fraudulency and also the non-Iranian artists supporting the movement, including Jon Bon Jovi who recorded a song in favor of Iranian people. Jian quoted from Reza Aslan, the Iranian-American author and scholar, who was interviewed the day before in his famous CBC Radio program, Q, that they are thankful to the non-Iranians who spread our word.
Jian then addressed the audience partly in Persian, "My sisters and brothers, we are full of emotion, but we should stand united and peaceful, we should be one voice. This is about self-determination for Iranians living in Iran. Regardless of religious affiliations regardless of political affiliations, we are here to tell the people in Iran: 'we are here for you, we won't abandon you, and we support what you want for Iran.' Let them decide for themselves, we cannot dictate change for them. We have to pace ourselves and maintain a growing movement. We have to let the world know that we are watching; that we will not forget those who were killed or tortured. We are not afraid, together we are united. The whole world is watching. "
The talks were followed by the departure of the cyclists to Ottawa. About sixty young faithful cyclists left Toronto while many others wished them the best of luck.
Then the rally took off from University Avenue with thousands of people. Some others stayed in Queens Park to start their twenty-four-hour hunger strike. What brought joy and pleasure to the people was an airplane which appeared in the sky carrying a message reading "Human Rights for Iran", the sincere hope of us all. I doubt the pilot heard the crowd clapping and shouting for him, but what I am sure of is the millions of people all around the world who hear Iran and stand with Iranians to get their human rights back.
Salam Toronto was one of the proud supporters and sponsors of this event.
... Payvand News - 07/28/09 ... --